The Christian movement popularly known as Plymouth Brethren had its origin in Dublin during the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century. It sprang from two main sources. First was the growing conviction among a vigorous handful of Evangelicals that none of the established churches and un-established sects of Christendom truly represented a New Testament community. Second, there was a heightened and widespread anticipation about that Jesus Christ would soon return.

The movement quickly spread to England, and in the following fifty years to most countries of the Christian West, to India and beyond. It gained its distinguishing name (never used within the movement) in the 1830s from spectacularly successful preaching in South Devon by 'Brethren from Plymouth'. Like all denominations led by individualists of strong principles, it bore within it the seeds of its own division, and is now fragmented in many dozens of major splits and minor splinter groups. In an average town in Britain or America today there could be ten separate bodies of Christians calling themselves Brethren and all related to each other by direct descent from the Dublin pioneers. In every sense it was a young movement. When it began, all its leaders were well under forty, and most of them under thirty. Its predominant tone was patrician; more than any other form of dissent, it attracted the 'disaffected aristocracy' and upper middle class: a typical early adherent was the Duke of Wellington's nephew.

Unfulfilled prophecy

The Brethren movement was born from the study of unfulfilled prophecy in the Bible. In 1826 - the year of its birth - there appeared an English version of an arresting work called The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. ...

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